what to do?
We woke up on the fourth day, undecided in our plans. We had been to a beautiful island off the west coast the day before and part of me was keen to return to that area and hike and explore another island but this would involve a fair amount of driving and the hike would be long and hot. Anders was tired and as he was doing most of the driving, I didn't feel it wasn't fair to ask him to repeat the (quite stressful!) journey. But I still felt a bit edgy - that island had looked so nice. The guidebook had promised a stunning and rarely-walked trail.. I really wanted to go. I could feel that childish part of myself pulling at me. 'I want, I want..', and the kinder part of me knowing that it wasn't the right thing to do. Here I was on a lovely holiday and yet I was allowing myself to get caught up in thoughts that were spoiling my day! In the end, both feeling a bit directionless, we decided just to pack a picnic and walk out through the olive groves where we were staying and see where the day took us.
a chance encounter
'Just keep walking, Anders' I muttered as we turned back to the main path
I sneaked a glance at the dog wondering what he was doing. He was staring at me with a happily waving tail, head on one side, no doubt wondering why I was ignoring him! With a sigh of relief I realised he was friendly.I patted him on the head and we set off on our way. And he followed.
We didn't bother for a while. He wasn't chained up and I know that in Sicily, people's attitudes to their dogs are quite different to our own. They often roam freely and no-one worries too much about them. We figured that he would walk to the boundary of what he knew to be his territory and then go home. I was wrong. We reached a paved road and I was sure he would turn back. He didn't. He bounded along in front of us, sometimes disappearing into olive groves and reappearing with a goofy, happy look on his face a few minutes later. He had endless energy, leaping after lizards and racing through shrubs without a care. We, on the other hand, kept wondering what we should do. Should we turn back? We even hid from him just to double check that he was actually following us. He waited until we set off again, then so did he. In the end, this wonderful dog followed us on a walk that lasted 4 hours. He sat under a tree while we ate our lunch and gratefully lapped up some water from the lid of our lunch box. He waited while we had a swim. He got chased by a tiny, aggressive French bulldog and then came to us for solace. But as we neared his home, the distance between him and us got gradually longer as he went ahead. He stopped looking back and then he was gone. As we got to the agriturismo where he lived, we craned our heads into the yard to see where he was. There was no sign of him.
what was the lesson?
This dog was open to possibility. He saw an opportunity and just took it joyfully. He had endless curiosity, enthusiasm and energy, interested in the small things that he found on his journey. He embraced the unusual and when it was over, he moved on without looking back, without attachment. The gift was in the experience.
I realised that I didn't need to feel sorry that I hadn't visited the island or that the day hadn't panned out as expected. There was joy to be had anyhow.